Frequently Asked Questions | St. Lawrence University Financial Aid

Frequently Asked Questions

The cost of higher education is of concern to many students and their parents. At St. Lawrence, over 99% of students received some form of financial assistance for the 2018-2019 academic year; the University spends more than $74 million on student aid annually. This web page is designed to answer many of the most commonly asked questions about costs and financial aid. We want to be sure that you have all of the information you need to make an informed decision about applying to St. Lawrence, and, eventually, an informed enrollment choice. We advise you to get the answers to these questions from all of the schools you are considering.

Paying For College
Merit Scholarships
Athletic Scholarships
Need-Based Financial Aid
Campus Employment
Application Process
Other Common Questions

The comprehensive fee covers about 68% of the costs St. Lawrence incurs in providing each student with an education. Gifts from alumni, friends, corporations and foundations, and income from the University's $290 million+ endowment subsidize the cost of educating each student.

Q. How much does St. Lawrence cost?
A. Please use this link to access the current cost at St. Lawrence. Room and board expenses can vary if a student elects a single room or an alternate meal plan. Indirect expenses vary widely from student to student depending on lifestyle.

Q. How does the cost compare with other colleges?
A. Comprehensive costs are similar to those at other private colleges, including those with which St. Lawrence shares a great deal of application overlap. Tuition revenue is essential to support the overall operation of the University and to allow us to continue to provide the opportunities that students and their families' value.

Q. Will costs go up while I am in college?
A. Yes. This is subject to change. Costs are set each February for the following academic year. In recent years, the annual increase has ranged between 3 and 4 percent.

Q. Is there a way to reduce my costs?
A. Most of the direct cost is fixed. Double rooms are less expensive than single rooms, and indirect expenses are influenced by student choices.

Q. May I live off campus?
A. As a residential college, we expect most students to live on campus.

Q. How do I pay for books?
A. We suggest that students use summer savings to pay for books in the fall, and use campus employment savings (if employed on campus) to pay for books in the spring. Parents or other family members can help with this expense. Depending on your course of study, books can be costly. Students should expect books to cost approximately $275 to $600 per semester. Books are usually purchased at the SLU Brewer Bookstore, and used copies may be purchased at discount prices when available.

We believe that students and their parents must meet the primary obligation of financing a college education. Financial assistance is intended to supplement the family's maximum effort to provide for their children's college expenses. The student and the family are making an investment in education.

Q. How much will my family be expected to pay for college?
A. It depends. We expect families who can afford to do so to pay the entire cost; minus any merit scholarships the student might be awarded. Some families cannot afford the full cost and apply for financial aid. If the family is determined eligible for financial aid, the amount of aid awarded varies.

Q. How is financial need determined?
A. Financial need is determined as the difference between the cost of attendance and the family's measured ability to pay. The Federal Government updates the formula for this determination annually. Among the many factors taken into consideration are family size, siblings attending college, income and assets. Need is calculated one year at a time, so students interested in receiving financial aid must reapply annually.

Q. What kinds of financial assistance are available?
A. Need-based grants and merit scholarships; student and parent loans; campus employment.

Q. What is the difference between a need-based grant and a merit scholarship?
A. Need-based grants are awarded after considering a family's financial resources. Merit scholarships are awarded without regard to financial circumstances.

Q. Can I receive both a merit scholarship and a need-based grant?
A. Yes. Some students qualify for both.

Q. Who is financial aid for?
A. Need-based financial aid is intended to allow access to St. Lawrence for students who, without that aid, could not afford to attend.

Q. What are my options if I do not receive enough financial assistance to cover my expenses?
A. We define the difference between the cost of attendance and financial aid as the family contribution. There are several ways to meet the family contribution. An interest-free monthly payment plan allows families to spread the cost over 3, 4 or 5 equal monthly payments each semester. Federal Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS loans) allow parents to borrow funds to meet educational costs not covered by financial aid. There are also private alternative loans that may allow families to finance the family contribution.

Q. How are parents and graduate student siblings considered when counting family members in college?
A. The Federal Methodology for calculating financial need does not consider parents in college nor siblings enrolled in graduate school. Exceptions made for graduate student siblings when their school requires parent information to determine their financial aid awards.

Q. What about consumer debt? Is it considered as part of the calculation for determining financial need?
A. No, consumer debt is not used as part of the needs analysis calculation. This is considered a discretionary choice and to include it would be unfair to families whose choices have resulted in little or no consumer debt.

Q. How does financial aid work for off-campus programs?
A. Depending on the program a student attends, there may be financial aid resources available. Students should contact the St. Lawrence University Financial Aid Office early in the process to determine potential eligibility.

Q. I am not sure if I should apply for financial aid. How can I predict whether or not I would be eligible for any financial aid resources?
A. There are several web sites that have a needs analysis calculator. These calculators allow one to enter data that results in an estimated expected family contribution (EFC). The EFC result is approximately what you may be asked to pay towards college expenses that year. If your EFC exceeds the cost of the university, you would not likely qualify for any need-based assistance, but keep in mind some schools have non-need based resources including student loan options. If you are still not sure, we recommend that you speak with a financial aid counselor. You may find one of these calculators at The St. Lawrence Website also has a Net Price Calculator, which provides an easy approximation of what a new first-year, undergraduate student can expect to pay.

We recognize that many students work very hard in high school-taking full advantage of what their schools offer by choosing challenging courses, getting involved in co-curricular activities and serving as leaders in their communities. Because those are the types of students whom we think are very well suited for the St. Lawrence experience, we award some of them with merit scholarships to assist with the cost of education.

Q. What kinds of merit scholarships does St. Lawrence offer?
A. Most of our merit scholarships are awarded to students based on their academic and personal records. We also award scholarships for outstanding community service and leadership. Merit scholarships range from $5,000 to full tuition per year.

Q. How do students apply for merit scholarships?
A. Most of our scholarship recipients are selected based on their admissions applications however, there are select scholarships which require an additional essay and must be applied for. 

Q. What is considered in determining who wins merit scholarships?
A. The admissions application in its entirety is considered. The student's academic record-including courses taken, grades earned, letters of recommendation and standardized test scores (if submitted), as well as co-curricular involvement, the essay and an interview (if applicable) are reviewed. Competition varies each year depending on the applicant pool. For more information, contact the Admissions Office.

Q. Once I receive a merit scholarship, is it guaranteed for four years?
A. No. In order to retain your University, Sesquicentennial, Trustee, Momentum, International, Vilas or Augsbury/North Country Scholarship, you must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

Q. Will my merit scholarship be increased as costs increase?
A. No. The amount of your merit scholarship will remain constant each year for four years, provided you maintain the required minimum cumulative grade point average.

Q. Can I win more than one SLU merit scholarship?
A. No. A student may only be granted one merit scholarship designation.

Q. Can I win more SLU scholarship money while I am in college?
A. Generally no, with the exception of a few awards, most scholarships are awarded to new students upon entry.

Q. Are there merit scholarships for transfer students?
A. Yes. Transfer students are considered for University Scholarships, International Scholarships, Presidential Diversity Scholarships, Momentum Scholarships, Sesquicentennial Scholarships, Leadership Scholarships and Community Service Scholarships.

St. Lawrence offers 34 intercollegiate athletic teams and more than 80% of our students compete on at least one team. All of these teams, except men and women's ice hockey, compete in Division III of the NCAA. The NCAA strictly prohibits the awarding of athletic scholarships for Division III athletes; in fact, a student's athletic involvement and talent cannot be considered when awarding merit scholarships or need-based financial aid. The only athletic scholarships available at St. Lawrence are for Division I men and women's ice hockey.

Need-based financial aid; grants, loans and campus employment; is intended to assist students whose families cannot afford the full cost at St. Lawrence. Federal and institutional guidelines determine the amount of assistance we can offer.

Q. How do I determine if I qualify for financial aid?
A. We encourage families interested in receiving assistance to obtain an initial determination of need. This can be done by using one of the need estimators that are available at some high school guidance offices or by accessing one of the online services such as The St. Lawrence University website also has a Net Price Calculator (NPC) for your use in determining an estimate of need for a new first-year, undergraduate student can expect to pay.

Q. What types of need-based assistance are available?
A. We offer institutional need-based grants and participate in several Federal and State assistance programs. These include the Federal Pell Grant Program, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, the New York State Tuition Assistance Program, Vermont State Assistance Grants, Federal Direct Student Loans, and the Federal College Work Study Program.

A need-based grant is often called "gift aid". It is money awarded to you by the government, by St. Lawrence University, or by an outside agency, that is credited to your account and reduces your cost. You do not have to pay this money back.

Q. How do you determine how much Federal or State grant I qualify for?
A. Federal Pell grants, New York and Vermont State grants are determined by governmental agencies and reported to St. Lawrence. Supplemental Educational Opportunity grants can only be awarded to students with the highest level of need, and St. Lawrence has a limited total amount of SEOG funds available to award each year. 

Q. What is the average total grant at St. Lawrence?
A. The average grant assistance or gift aid (excluding loans and employment) to eligible first-year students during 2018-2019 was $36,858. This includes St. Lawrence grant funds as well as Federal and State grants.

Q. Will my St. Lawrence grant be increased as costs increase?
A. Your grant will not be increased as a function of cost increase. The expectation is that each year you should be able to pay a greater amount toward your education.

Q. Will an increase or decrease in family income affect my grant?
A. It could. An increase in family income will typically reduce your demonstrated financial need (as calculated by the government tool called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid-FAFSA) and result in a reduction in your institutional grant. A decrease in family income may result in an increase in grant amount, but this is not guaranteed.

Q. What else will affect the amount of my grant in future years?
A. Because need is calculated every year, based on income and asset information as well as family size, your grant could fluctuate as well. If you have an older sibling who graduates or withdraws from college, your grant will likely be reduced. Likewise, if another sibling attends college, your need and subsequently your financial aid might increase, although this is not guaranteed.

Students are investing in their future, and, if they make the most of their college experience, they can expect to find themselves, upon graduation, in a position to pay their student loan expenses in a responsible way.

Q. How do I select an educational loan lender?
A. St. Lawrence participates in the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program for all student and parent federal educational loans. Should you decide to consider a private or alternative education loan option, you will need to research options, as we do not provide a private loan resource list.

Q. What types of loans are available?
A. Federal Direct Loans (subsidized or unsubsidized depending on your financial need and aid awarded), Federal Direct PLUS Loans, and alternative loans.

Q. What is the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized?
A. Interest on a subsidized loan does not accrue until you leave school and begin repayment. Interest on an unsubsidized loan begins to accrue as soon as the loan funds are disbursed.

Q. How big are the loans?
A. Federal Direct loans vary in amount depending on your class year. First-year students are awarded a $3,500 loan, sophomores can borrow $4,500, and juniors and seniors qualify for $5,500 each year based on units completed. Dependent students who qualify may borrow an additional $2,000 in unsubsidized Federal Direct Stafford loan each year. If you are receiving a need-based grant, you should expect your financial aid award to include the maximum loan allowed by your year in school. Federal PLUS Loans and alternative loan amounts vary depending upon total cost and total financial aid resources.

Q. Will I have more than one loan at the same time?
A. Some students receiving need-based aid may have two student loans each year, a Direct loan and an alternative student loan.

Q. How much loan debt is typical?
A. Nearly all students receiving need-based financial aid will have a minimum of $19,000, the sum of the maximum direct loan for four years. Students typically borrow $27,000 in Federal loans for their undergraduate study.

Q. I know my family will not qualify for need-based grant aid, but I want to take out student loans. What forms do I need to file?
A. You must file the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to be eligible for any Federal loans, including the unsubsidized Direct Loan.

Many students choose to work in various departments on campus, both to earn money and to gain valuable experience. The jobs are wide-ranging, from working in Dining Services to working as a Community Assistant in the residence halls to tutoring in local schools. The Admissions and Financial Aid Offices could not get along without our student workers-many offices on campus feel the same way!

Q. What office is responsible for the administration of the campus employment program?
A. The Financial Aid Office is responsible for the administration of the program. The program is subject to and will be administered in accordance with all Federal and State laws and statutes governing employment practices.

Q. Who is eligible to participate in the campus employment program?
A. Undergraduate students who are matriculated in a degree program and enrolled at least half time are eligible to participate. Many financial aid recipients are offered the opportunity for Campus Employment. Award letters will indicate federal or institutional student employment, with preference given to students with federally funded employment in the initial hiring process.

Q. How do I apply for a job on campus?
A. Students interested in applying for campus employment may do so by reviewing the job postings located at the Financial Aid Office, as well as on the Campus Employment Website. Once a student reviews the openings and chooses a position of interest, he or she should contact the department directly for specific application instructions. Students should be prepared to complete an application and/or an interview. Students may also contact departments directly to inquire about any available job opportunities.

Q. Who makes the hiring decision?
A. The prospective campus employer will make the hiring decision. Once the decision is made, the employer will submit a Personnel Action form to the Financial Aid Office for processing.

Q. How will I be paid?
A. Students are paid on a bi-weekly basis for the number of hours worked. Checks are sent directly to your SMC or may be paid by direct deposit. Please note that CAs (Community Assistants) have the option of bi-weekly checks or a room waiver.

Q. How do I sign up for direct deposit?
A. You may enroll in direct deposit by completing an enrollment form and submitting it to the Business Office in Vilas Hall. You may have your funds directly deposited to more than one bank account and to any bank in the country.

Q. What forms must I complete before I can begin work?
A. Prior to being hired, all students must complete an I-9 form. Students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents must complete a W-4 form. International students may be required to complete a W-4 or 8233 form, depending on their country of residency. U.S. students may complete required forms in the Financial Aid Office. International students complete required forms in the Business Office located in Vilas Hall.

Q. How many hours am I allowed to work?
A. Students may work a maximum of 15 hours per week during the school year and up to 40 hours per week during breaks. Students are also limited to a maximum of two campus positions at a time.

Q. What if I play a sport in the fall? Is it possible to work during the spring semester only?
A. Yes. You may obtain a job for the spring semester only, or you may begin work during the fall semester and work only a few hours per week as some employers will work around your schedule.

Q. Who do I contact if I have a question concerning the payroll process?
A. It depends on the question. If you have a question regarding the PA form or the I-9 / W-4 information, you should contact the Financial Aid Office. If you have a question regarding your rate of pay or the number of hours worked, you should contact your immediate supervisor. If you have a question regarding your W-2 form, you should contact the Business Office.

Q. What is the current rate of pay for a student position?
A. The current range of hourly pay for a student position is $7.70 to $10.40 per hour, depending on the position. Pay rates are determined by criteria such as nature of work performed, duties and responsibilities, skill level of tasks and duties, as well as judgment and knowledge required to perform the job.

Read this section thoroughly, follow directions, and meet deadlines. Contact the Financial Aid Office if you have any questions.

Q. How do I apply for financial aid?
A. On the Admissions application, check the box indicating your interest in financial aid. All financial aid candidates are required to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) between October 1 and February 1 of the year in which they plan to enroll. One can apply online at

Q. Is there a different procedure if I am an Early Decision applicant?
A. Early Decision candidates should submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at the same time as they submit their admissions application.

Q. What is the deadline?
A. February 1st of the year in which you plan to enroll.

Q. Does it make a difference if I use estimated or actual tax returns?
A. It could. Initial estimated financial aid notifications will be determined based on the data submitted on the FAFSA form. If estimated figures are initially used, we will require updated FAFSA information. St. Lawrence will verify current information using actual tax return and W-2 copies once they are available. If estimated figures differ from current figures, the award amount could change.

Q. Does getting an extension on filing income tax have any effect?
A. It could. If your initial financial aid was estimated using incomplete income information, and, subsequently, the actual data is different, your final award amounts could change. This could also cause a delay in having your aid posted to your account, or result in less financial aid awarded.

Q. Can I apply just once for all four years?
A. No. Since many of the Federal needs analysis components can change from year to year, candidates for aid must apply annually.

Q. Do I need to complete a separate application for consideration for a St. Lawrence merit scholarship?
A. No. The Admissions Committee awards merit-based scholarships to first-year and transfer students based on a review of the complete admissions application. No additional application is required, although additional essays may be required for certain scholarships.

Q. Is there financial aid available for summer session course work at St. Lawrence?
A. It depends. Summer session financial aid resources are very limited and many students do not qualify because they need the resources for their fall and spring semester costs. Since each situation varies, students need to discuss this possibility with a St. Lawrence financial aid counselor well in advance of registering for summer session courses.

Q. Will I receive more financial aid if I have good grades at St. Lawrence or am involved on campus?
A. No. Merit scholarships are awarded only to students when they enter St. Lawrence and are not increased. Need-based assistance is awarded based on a family's financial situation.

Q. The FAFSA report says that my family can afford more for college than is true. Will you consider my special circumstances?
A. Please communicate with the Financial Aid Office. There are certain special circumstances, which we are allowed to consider. In other cases, the special circumstances may not meet the eligibility criteria.

Q. Is St. Lawrence "need-blind" in admissions?
A. St. Lawrence is "need-blind" (e.g., it does not consider your family's financial situation) in the review of most applicants. We do consider the financial situation in the review of applications from international students, and we may consider it for students at the margin of admissibility. It is likely that financial need will be considered for students being reviewed for admission off the waitlist.

Q. If I have demonstrated financial need, as reported on the FAFSA results, will St. Lawrence guarantee to meet my need?
A. No. Although we try to provide an adequate package for all eligible students, we do not guarantee to meet the need of each student who is admitted.

Q. What is preferential packaging?
A. This is a process by which we consider the overall strength of the admissions application in determining the composition of the need-based financial aid package. For example, a student who is very competitive in our applicant pool might receive a greater proportion of their need met by grant than a less competitive applicant with similar need might. This process rewards academic and personal achievement beyond what the merit scholarship process achieves.

Q. If I receive a better financial aid package from another college, will St. Lawrence match it?
A. Not necessarily. If you receive a better package from another college because you provided additional information to that aid office, we will then review your aid application with this new information. If you received a better aid package (or merit scholarship) because you are one of their strongest candidates and in the middle of our pool, you should not expect our award to change.

Q. How will applying Early Decision influence my consideration for merit scholarships?
A. You will automatically be considered for University scholarships at Early Decision. You may also apply for either the Community Service, Leadership, or Presidential Diversity Scholarship. If you are a scholarship winner, you will be notified at the time of your admission. If you are interested in the Vilas Scholarship, applications must be submitted by February 1 and winners will not be selected until mid-March.

Q. Can I calculate my total loan debt by multiplying my first-year student loan by four years?
A. No. A Federal Direct Student loan may start at $3,500, then increase to $4,500, and then again to $5,500 for your senior year. A total Federal Direct Student loan maximum is at least $19,000. If your financial aid award includes an alternative loan, you should expect that the total amount you will borrow will be at least the first year amount multiplied by four.

Q. Is there a discount if more than one person from my family is enrolled at St. Lawrence? How about for the children of alumni?
A. There is not a discount for families whose children enroll concurrently. St. Lawrence awards a Legacy Grant to the children, grandchildren and siblings of St. Lawrence alumni (and to the siblings of current students). This is a $2,500 grant awarded annually for four years. The Legacy Grant does not apply to students receiving the SLU Employee Tuition Remission benefit.

Q. Is there any effect on my need-based financial aid award if I win an outside scholarship? How about on my merit scholarship?
A. Depending on the amount and restrictions of the outside scholarship, your need-based aid or merit scholarship may be reduced. Because each case is considered individually, be sure to speak with someone in the Financial Aid Office to learn how an outside scholarship might affect your award.

Q. What is the best way to contact the Financial Aid Office at St. Lawrence University?
A. Financial Aid Office staff may be reached by telephone at 800-355-0863 or 315-229-5265 on most weekdays from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm (Eastern Time), via our e-mail address at, and our fax machine (315-229-7418) is available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.

Q. What do I do if my parents are separated, divorced and/or remarried?
A. Students need to follow the instructions on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine which parent(s) information to use. If the custodial parent has remarried, the stepparent information will be required on the financial aid application. Contact the SLU Financial Aid Office should you have any questions regarding how to complete this section of the FAFSA.

Q. Is the financial aid I receive taxable?
A. If you are a U.S citizen, your income from student employment earnings at St. Lawrence is subject to Federal and State income taxes just like any other earnings. If you receive grant and/or scholarship funds that exceed the cost of tuition, fees, books and required supplies, those funds may be subject to income taxes as well. For more information, you may contact a tax preparer or the Internal Revenue Service at If you are an international student, you may be subject to U.S. taxes on that amount of grant and scholarship exceeding tuition unless your home country has a formal agreement with the U.S. government. Contact the St. Lawrence Business Office or 315-229-5591 for more information.

Q. When is a student considered independent for financial aid purposes?
A. Federal guidelines state that in order for students to be considered independent for Federal financial aid purposes, they must meet at least one of the following conditions: were born before January 1, 1996; are married; working on a Master's or Doctorate program; currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training; are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces; have children who receive more than half of their support from you; have dependents (other than your children and spouse) who live with you and receive more than half of their support from you; were in foster care or a ward of the court with your parents deceased; are an emancipated minor as determined by court; are or were in legal guardianship as determined by a court; or have been recognized by a high school or governmental agency as an unaccompanied youth who is/was homeless.

Q. What does maintaining “Satisfactory Academic Progress” mean?
A. Students who receive financial aid resources from St. Lawrence must maintain what is called satisfactory academic progress (SAP) to continue receiving those funds for which they qualify. SAP includes minimum grade point averages (GPA) and successfully completing a certain percentage of attempted coursework called PACE. Specific standards may be found in the St. Lawrence University Catalog, the Student Handbook or on the St. Lawrence University Website. It is the student’s responsibility to be familiar with these standards.

Q. What is a Verification Worksheet and why do I need to complete one each year?
A. The U.S. Department of Education has verification requirements. We are sometimes required to verify or validate the information that students and parents provide on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Verification Worksheet allows us to validate items such as family size and number in college.

Q. What happens to financial aid resources if a student drops a course or withdraws?
A. It depends. Several financial aid programs require a student to be enrolled in a full time course load, which is 3.5 or more units at St. Lawrence. We rely on the add/drop date each semester to determine if students receiving financial aid resources are meeting enrollment requirements. Students need to speak with a financial aid counselor if they have any questions about dropping a course. Should a student withdraw from St. Lawrence, they may or may not have their costs pro-rated as it depends on when they withdraw. The University Catalog and Student Handbook contain detailed information about the withdrawal process.